How to Grow Garlic in Pots: A Step-by-Step Guide for Homesteaders & Gardeners

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Are you a homesteader looking to add the delightful flavor and health benefits of fresh garlic to your homegrown produce? Or are you a small scale gardener looking for a way to grow delicious garlic in your small space garden? You’ll be glad to know that garlic can be successfully grown in pots, both indoors and outdoors! Whether you have limited space or want to extend your gardening season, growing garlic in containers is an excellent solution. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the methods, tips, and techniques to help you master the art of how to grow garlic in pots.

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Can You Grow Garlic in a Pot?

Many homesteaders or small space gardeners wonder, “Can you grow garlic in a pot?” The answer is a resounding yes! Garlic is a versatile plant that adapts well to container gardening. By providing the right conditions and following a few essential guidelines, you can grow garlic in pots and enjoy a bountiful harvest.

How to Plant Garlic in Pots

To get started with growing garlic in pots, follow these simple steps:

Select a Suitable Pot

When choosing a pot for growing garlic, opt for a container that is at least 5 inches deep to accommodate the garlic bulbs’ root development. Additionally, ensure that the pot has proper drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. Clay or terracotta pots are excellent choices for garlic cultivation as they provide good airflow to the roots.

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Prepare the Potting Mix

Garlic thrives in loose, well-draining soil. Create a suitable potting mix by combining equal parts of garden soil, compost, and sand or perlite. The garden soil provides nutrients, while the compost improves the soil structure and enhances moisture retention. The addition of sand or perlite helps to improve drainage, preventing the soil from becoming compacted.

Planting Garlic Cloves

Before planting, separate the garlic bulbs into individual cloves. Choose healthy, firm cloves for optimal results. It’s important to note that each clove will grow into a new garlic plant. With the pointed ends facing upward, plant each clove about 2 inches deep into the potting mix. Space the cloves approximately 6 inches apart to allow room for growth.

can you grow garlic in a pot

Watering and Sunlight

After planting the garlic cloves, water the pot lightly to settle the soil around the cloves. It’s important to maintain the soil moisture without overwatering. Garlic prefers slightly moist soil but can be susceptible to root rot if the soil remains waterlogged. Ensure the pot has good drainage to allow excess water to escape. Place the pot in a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily, as garlic requires ample sunlight for healthy growth and bulb development.

Fertilization

Garlic is a relatively low-maintenance plant, but it can benefit from occasional fertilization. Use a balanced, organic fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Avoid using excessive amounts of nitrogen-rich fertilizers, as this can result in more leafy growth rather than bulb development.

Mulching

Applying a layer of mulch around the garlic plants can help conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature. Organic materials such as straw, shredded leaves, or wood chips make excellent mulch choices. Apply a layer of mulch around 2-3 inches thick, taking care to keep it away from the base of the garlic plants to prevent rot.

Maintenance

Regularly monitor the moisture level of the potting mix and adjust watering accordingly. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely, as this can hinder bulb development. Remove any weeds that may compete for nutrients and space with the garlic plants. Additionally, inspect the garlic plants for signs of pests or diseases, such as aphids or fungal infections. Promptly address any issues to ensure the health and vitality of your garlic crop.

Growing Garlic Indoors

Choose the Right Variety

When growing garlic indoors, it’s important to select the right variety that is well-suited for indoor cultivation. Softneck garlic varieties are generally the best choice for indoor growing due to their adaptability and compact growth habit. Some popular softneck varieties include Inchelium Red and Early Italian Purple. These varieties are known for their excellent flavor and adaptability to container gardening.

Containers and Soil

Select deep containers with drainage holes for growing garlic indoors. The containers should be large enough to accommodate the root system of the garlic bulbs. Using separate containers for each garlic plant is ideal, as it allows better control over watering and nutrient uptake. Fill the containers with a well-draining potting mix that consists of a blend of garden soil, compost, and perlite or vermiculite. This mixture provides adequate nutrients, moisture retention, and good aeration for the garlic plants.

Temperature and Lighting

Garlic thrives in cooler temperatures, typically ranging from 55°F to 75°F (13°C to 24°C). Therefore, it’s important to place the containers in a location that maintains these temperature conditions. Choose a spot near a south-facing window that receives ample sunlight throughout the day. If natural light is insufficient, supplement it with artificial grow lights. Position the lights above the plants and provide around 14-16 hours of light each day. Adjustable LED grow lights with a full spectrum are ideal for promoting healthy growth and bulb development.

Watering and Humidity

Proper watering is crucial for growing garlic indoors. Maintain consistent soil moisture by watering the plants whenever the top inch of the potting mix feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. Water the plants thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain out of the container. It’s also beneficial to increase humidity levels around the garlic plants. You can achieve this by placing a tray filled with water near the containers or by periodically misting the foliage. This mimics the natural humidity garlic prefers and helps prevent drying of the leaves.

Fertilization

Indoor garlic plants can benefit from regular fertilization to ensure adequate nutrient supply. Use a balanced, organic fertilizer formulated for vegetables. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for application rates and frequency. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive leaf growth rather than bulb development. Monitor the plants for signs of nutrient deficiencies, such as yellowing leaves, and adjust the fertilizer application accordingly.

Pruning and Scaping

To promote bulb development, it’s recommended to trim the scapes (flower stalks) that emerge from the garlic plants. Scapes divert energy away from bulb formation, so removing them allows the plant to focus on producing larger bulbs. Harvest the scapes when they curl or loop, typically around late spring or early summer. Trim them close to the base of the plant using clean pruning shears or scissors. The harvested scapes are delicious and can be used in various culinary dishes.

growing garlic indoors

Harvesting

Indoor garlic plants generally take longer to mature compared to those grown outdoors. Harvesting time typically ranges from 8 to 10 months after planting, depending on the variety. The garlic bulbs are ready to harvest when the lower leaves turn brown and dry out. Gently dig around the base of the plants to loosen the soil, and carefully lift the bulbs out of the containers. Allow the harvested garlic bulbs to dry in a cool, well-ventilated area for a few weeks until the outer layers become papery. This curing process enhances the flavor and storage life of the garlic.

By following these steps, you can successfully grow garlic indoors and enjoy a fresh supply of flavorful garlic right at your fingertips. Indoor garlic cultivation allows you to have a year-round harvest and brings the satisfaction of homegrown produce to your indoor gardening endeavors.

Growing Garlic in Water

Select Healthy Garlic Cloves

To grow garlic in water, start by selecting healthy garlic cloves. Look for plump and firm cloves with no signs of damage or disease. It’s best to choose organic garlic cloves to ensure they haven’t been treated with any chemicals that could inhibit growth. When growing garlic in water, it is generally recommended to remove some of the paper skin from the cloves before placing them in the container. The paper skin can hinder water absorption and root development. By removing the paper skin, you expose the cloves’ bottom portion, allowing them to come into direct contact with the water and facilitate root growth. However, be careful not to damage the cloves or remove too many layers of skin, as this can affect their viability. It’s best to gently peel off the outermost layer of skin while leaving the cloves intact.

Garden Tower Project

Place the Garlic Cloves

Fill a glass jar or container with water, ensuring that the bottom portion of the cloves is submerged. You can use toothpicks or a small net to suspend the cloves just above the water level. The goal is to have the bottom of the cloves in contact with the water while allowing the tops to remain above the water surface.

Water Change and Sunlight

Change the water in the container every two to three days to prevent stagnation and maintain freshness. It’s important to provide adequate sunlight to encourage healthy growth. Place the container in a sunny location, such as a windowsill, where the garlic cloves can receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. If natural light is limited, you can supplement it with artificial grow lights to ensure sufficient light exposure.

Patience and Observation

Growing garlic in water requires patience as it takes time for the roots to develop and shoots to emerge. Be patient and observe the progress of the garlic cloves. Within a couple of weeks, you should start to see green shoots emerging from the cloves. These shoots will continue to grow and develop into the green foliage of the garlic plant.

Maintain Water Levels

As the garlic plants grow, keep an eye on the water levels in the container. Ensure that the bottom portion of the cloves remains in contact with the water. If necessary, add or change the water to maintain the desired level. It’s important to keep the water clean and free from any debris that could hinder the growth of the roots.

grow garlic in water

Harvesting

When growing garlic in water, you can enjoy harvesting the garlic greens, also known as garlic sprouts or garlic chives. These greens have a milder garlic flavor and can be used as a culinary garnish or added to salads, soups, and other dishes. Harvest the greens by cutting them just above the water level, allowing new shoots to continue growing.

Transplanting to Soil (Optional)

While growing garlic in water is an interesting and convenient method, it’s important to note that the bulbs produced may not develop to their full potential. If desired, you can transplant the garlic cloves into soil once the roots have grown a few inches long. Gently plant them in a container filled with a well-draining potting mix, burying the cloves with the shoots above the soil surface. Water the newly transplanted garlic thoroughly and continue caring for them as you would for garlic planted directly in soil.

Growing garlic in water can be a fun and educational project, especially for those who want to observe the growth process up close. While the bulbs produced may be smaller compared to those grown in soil, the garlic greens can still provide a tasty addition to your culinary creations. Enjoy the journey of watching garlic sprout and thrive in water, bringing a touch of green and flavor to your indoor gardening endeavors.

Conclusion

Growing garlic in pots is a rewarding endeavor for homesteaders seeking fresh, aromatic garlic all year round. Whether you choose to grow garlic indoors or in water, following the appropriate techniques and tips will ensure a successful harvest. With the comprehensive guide provided, you now have the knowledge to embark on your own garlic-growing adventure. Embrace the joy of homegrown garlic and elevate your culinary creations while embracing sustainable gardening practices.

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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